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Dune Miniseries Gets The Go Ahead

The SCI FI Channel has given the green light to a six-hour Dune miniseries being developed by ABC Pictures. The project is being executive produced by Richard Rubinstein (The Stand, The Langoliers) from a script by John Harrison.

Casting for Dune is underway now and is expected to be completed by the end of September. The series will be shooting on location in Prague and Tunisia later this year and will likely air on SCI FI in the second half of 2001.

Casting details are expected shortly.


Liv To Star As Rings Queen

Liv Tyler has agreed to play the role of Arwen, Queen of the Elves, in Peter Jackson's upcoming Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. According to Variety, Tyler was able to clear up scheduling conflicts with the Robert Altman film Dr. T and the Women in order to take on the Rings role.

Tyler now plans to spend nine months in New Zealand on the back-to-back Rings shoot but will take three weeks off at some point to film Dr. T. in Texas. Jackson plans to begin production on his $130 million epic Rings series this fall.


Keanu Close To $30 Million Matrix Deal

Keanu Reeves is reportedly on the verge of signing a $30 million deal to appear in two sequels to his blockbuster SF movie The Matrix. According to Variety, Reeves could eventually make more than $100 million from his journeys into The Matrix depending on how all three films do at the box office.

Larry and Andy Wachowski, the writer/director team who created The Matrix, plan to shoot the two sequels back to back during a 250-day shoot that will start in fall 2000. Variety reports that the brothers will earn a combined $10 million for their work on the next two films.

It's also considered likely that The Matrix co-stars Carrie-Anne Moss and Laurence Fishburne will be asked to reprise their roles in the sequels.


Rising Stars Generates Rising Sales

Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski is proving to be as big a hit in the comic book industry as he is in Hollywood. The first issue of Straczynski's SF comic book Rising Stars has been selling so well that distributor Image has announced plans for an additional printing of 20,000 copies.

"Rising Stars has exceeded all our expectations from both a creative and business standpoint," said David Wohl, the editor-in-chief of Stars producer Top Cow. "Readers have enthusiastically responded to J. Michael Straczynski's incredible storyline and the top-notch artwork in the book."


Star Wars Shatters Overseas Records

Star Wars: Episode I continued its overseas box-office rampage during the weekend of Aug. 21, setting new records in five more countries. According to Variety, The Phantom Menace scored the highest openings of all time in Germany, Spain, Sweden, Austria and Denmark.

Episode I also finished No. 2 in Norway and has now earned more than $271 million in foreign theaters. Meanwhile, The Mummy passed the $200 million mark in overseas ticket sales, and The Matrix has picked up $185 million.


TNT Considers Witchblade...Again

TNT is considering adding the Oliver Stone series Witchblade to its summer 2000 lineup, according to Variety. The show--which at one point was going to serve as a companion series to Crusade--is based on the Top Cow comic book of the same name and has been kicking around TNT for more than a year.

Oliver Stone's Illusion Entertainment is behind Witchblade, which tells the story of a New York detective named Sara Pezzani who bonds with an ancient, intelligent, living weapon. Assuming it gets the go ahead, the series will feature an ensemble cast that fights "Earth's darkest evil forces."


Corman Creates Monster Serial For AMC

Roger Corman, the famous low-budget film director behind such classic flicks as It Conquered the World, has signed on to produce and star in a 35-chapter "serial monster movie" for AMC. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the serial installments will air during the breaks between a selection of classic monster movies and specials that AMC will feature during its three-day Halloween weekend marathon.

Corman will play the role of Gorman, the head of the AMC horror department, and he will be backed up by cameo appearances from his former associates at American International Pictures. Corman will also host AMC's upcoming MonsterFest '99, as well as AMC's eight-week Corman Film Festival.


Shatner Establishes Memorial Fund

Star Trek alum William Shatner has established the Nerine Shatner Memorial Fund in honor of his wife, who drowned in the couple's swimming pool on Aug. 9. Donations to the fund will benefit the Friendly House, a non-profit organization that helps women re-establish themselves in the community after suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction.

In an open letter to fans on the WilliamShatner.com Web site, Shatner wrote:

I would like to thank all of you for the outpouring of support with which you have graced me during this period of anguish and grief. My beautiful soulmate has moved on, and I am determined to accomplish something lasting and meaningful in her memory.

Please consider making a donation to the memorial fund I've established to help those with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Friendly House is a non-profit, private facility for women in need of help in overcoming these problems, and was the first residential recovery home for women in the United States. No one has ever been turned away in its 49 years of existence because of an inability to pay; the average stay for each resident is between three to six months, and can last up to a year. Friendly House is not officially affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous, but espouses the twelve-step program, in addition to providing love, trust and support. I hope you'll help me carry on Nerine's memory in a manner she would approve.

It is unknown whether drugs or alcohol played a role in the death of Nerine Shatner. According to CNN, the autopsy results have been deferred pending toxicology tests.


SFWA Creates Junior Membership

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Inc. has created a new junior membership class for aspiring SF writers under the age of 21. To be eligible to join SFWA as a junior member, applicants must have either placed an SF&F short story in a contest sponsored by a professional or official group, or published an SF&F story in a school (or equivalent) newspaper or magazine.

A junior membership costs $20 per year and includes a subscription to the SFWA Bulletin, a junior member card, a special SFWA junior member directory, and access to various SFWA online services. For more information, contact: Sharon Lee; SFWA Executive Director; PO Box 171; Unity, ME 04988-0171.


Briefly Noted

  • Actress Kim Delaney of NYPD Blue fame will play an astronaut in Brian De Palma's upcoming SF film Mission to Mars, according to reports.

  • Metafilmics, the studio behind What Dreams May Come, plans to release a 40-minute short SF film called The Quantum Project on the Internet in May 2000.

  • ABC has inked a deal with Buena Vista for the TV rights to the hit movie The Sixth Sense. According to Variety, the purchase could end up costing ABC more than $30 million.

  • Cult film star Bruce Campbell (the Evil Dead series) will lend his voice to NovaLogic's upcoming SF PC game Tachyon: The Fringe.


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